‘I’m amazingly, awesomely fantastic. You should definitely hire me. I am the best.’

It’s what they all say… in a nutshell. But you wouldn’t hire these people based on this limited self-assessment. So why believe them when they tell you they’re ‘passionate’ about what they do?

Hiring for passion

It makes sense to hire passionate staff. An employee who enjoys their work is likely to do it better and stay at the company for longer. But with every candidate putting their best foot forward in an interview, how can you tell which ones are actually passionate and which ones are just trying to look good?

Well, one way is to know exactly what type of person you’re looking for. Say for example you’re looking to fill a vacancy for a call centre agent. What do the best agents enjoy about the position? Do they get excited about solving problems? About being knowledgeable about certain processes and procedures? About being asked for by name? Look out for these traits in an interview.

Passion: not all that

Another problem with passion is that it doesn’t always fill gaps in employment. Not everyone wants to be a rocket scientist – but I’d bet a lot of them want to be DJs. And with SA’s unemployment epidemic, this is especially tricky.

Furthermore, according to Cal Newport, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University and the author of three books of unconventional advice for students, ‘following your passion’ is not just bad advice; it’s not actually true.

Instead, he suggests that, “Most people don’t have preexisting passions that can be easily matched to their work. And for those who do enjoy such passion, there’s little evidence that building a career around it will lead to satisfaction… If you want to love what you do, first focus on becoming exceptional at a rare and valuable skill, then leverage this value to gain… traits such as autonomy, impact, recognition, creativity.”

Constructing passion

Recruiter.com suggests that rather than looking for an employee who is ready to marry your cause, focus on finding a well-rounded candidate with the right cultural fit and keep them engaged. They’ll have better leadership potential and will be more dedicated to self-improvement.

Engagement isn’t just about keeping employees happy or satisfied. It’s about having an emotional connection to the company and its goals. Don’t know where to start? Check out some of these great tips for improving your employee engagement.